Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Preparing the Soil

Those of us who have been in church have heard the parable of the seeds and soil. One of the places you can find it is in Matthew 13.

I know when I have read it before I focused on the soil...and I would identify where I was in my walk. Or I would look at others and think about where the seed was planted for them.

But when I was brought here again recently, my focus shifted. It shifted to the farmer, the one sowing the seed. God spoke to me and wanted me to think about how careful have I been when I do what He has called me to do...sow the seed. He reminded me like one of the verses says, "though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand" (Matt 13:13) I need to plant with discernment and wisdom.

I can not be careless just throwing out the message of hope without a plan. I honestly worry when we talk about "programs that are the quickest, easiest way" to share Jesus. I worry that those seeds could be this seed, "As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up." I see this being the times where we just scatter the message to multitudes. We may pass out fliers or tracks. With nothing alongside the message, it will mean nothing. With no explanation, no teaching, no love....that message has no value. "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches it away what was sown in his heart." When we plant seed in this manner, there might be a spark of hope, something to reach for...but with nothing else, it will be gone just as quickly.

Then there are the times I might have sown the seed and walked away. I saw they accepted the message and appeared to understand it and I thought my job was done. There was no follow up, no discipleship, no plan. When I do that as the farmer, the roots will be shallow. They won't know what to do when trouble or temptation comes. They won't have someone there to turn to. I would have planted those seeds in the rocky ground with little soil or among the thorns and weeds. My seed wouldn't be fruitful, it wouldn't benefit others. "But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution come because of the word, he quickly falls away......the worries of this life, and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful."

So what does God expect from us as farmers, sowers of the seed? We should place it in good soil..and that takes work. I am not a gardener, and it is probably because of the work it takes. The ground must be prepped and prepared. Tools are used to dig and loosen it. It is fertilized. Seeds are planted a specific distance and at a specific level, at a specific time and in specific sunlight. The garden is tended to, cared for, watered and weeded. So what does that look like to a disciple who is planting the seed of salvation in this world? It isn't a quick and easy unplanned message. As always we must look how Jesus planted His seed.

I believe he fertilized by meeting the needs. He prepared the soil by feeding, healing and loving them. When he planted he was so in touch with His father, He knew the right time and place and didn't allow anything to get in the way of that. He asked them to follow and He taught them and He prayed. He kept them close, and walked them through.

Christians, we need to be busy at loving and helping those around us. We must prepare the soil before we plant. We need to be mentors, prayer warriors, and discipling once we plant the seeds. Then and only then will there be growth and we will produce other farmers to sow correctly and the crops will multiply.

"But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matt 13:23

May God use my words to bring salt and light to my readers.